Till a few months ago, working from home was a privilege. Everyone loved flexibility and not having to commute to work once in a while until the novel coronavirus took over the world and everyone just had no option but to work from home. All of a sudden, working from home seems less like a privilege and more like a challenge because as humans we only appreciate flexibility as long as we enjoy and ask for it – not when it is forced on us.

So how do you successfully work from home? There’s no one right approach to do it but there are a few small steps one can take to make working from home effective.

Set up a space

It’s important to have a workspace – whether that’s a desk, the dining table or worst-case scenario a corner of the couch with a coffee table. A desk or chair at the dining table is most suited because it gives you the illusion that you’re at the workplace and a proper setting. That automatically makes your mind productive and in the work mode.

Set up a routine

If you’re working from home that does not mean you shouldn’t have a routine. Set up a routine just like you have one for days when you commute to the workplace. Get up, dress up and have breakfast before the day begins. Make a schedule for your to-dos and tick them off the list as you begin accomplishing them. This mini goal list for the day will not only keep you on track but also help you stay in routine.

Don’t forget the lunch break

Make sure to take time for lunch. Whether you’re stopping to make food or order food, take your lunch break. You are still entitled to it even when you work from home. This also helps establish the boundary that you’re not always available. You can block the time off in your calendar or just be flexible about it but be sure to take the 30 or 45-minute lunch break that you normally take while in the office.  

Move around

In any normal scenario, I’d recommend going out for a 15 to 20 minute walk but given the current situation, if you are uncomfortable going out, I’d suggest standing up from your desk and moving around the room or house. The biggest trap of working from home is that people forget to move at all day and this can take a toll on not only physical and mental health but also productivity.

Set deadlines and stick to them

Its easy to skip and forget about timelines and deadline when you’re working from home and don’t have a supervisor around reminding about deadlines. So take responsibility, set your deadlines, write them down and stick to them. Hold yourself accountable because working from home is all about holding yourself accountable more than anything else.

Take breaks

In a normal day at work, lunch break is not the only break you get to take. Everyone takes a 5 to 15 minute break to catch up with colleagues. So when you are working from home, remember to take your other breaks, too! If you’d take a 15-minute break at work, make sure to give yourself the same time at home.

Distance but don’t isolate!

It’s important to remember that the precautions we’re taking to stop the virus are physical restrictions. That doesn’t mean you suddenly have to disconnect from all of your family and friends. Working from home is isolating even in the best of times, and now you won’t have coworkers next door to cheer you up. The responsibility to connect with others is on you. Remember, distance but don’t isolate yourself mentally.

Contrary to how most of us looked at it a few months ago, working from home can have its set of challenges; the biggest being productivity, especially if you’re not used to it. Practicing some of these may help you settle into your new normal as painlessly as possible. Stay safe, wash your hands, and good luck working from home.